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supposed to hold; so far his art may be called imitative; and this is the case in all dramatic composition. But in narrative or descriptive works it cannot with propriety be so called. Who, for example, would call Virgil's description of a tempest in the first Æneid an imitation of a storm? If we heard of the imitation of a battle, we might naturally think of some mock fight, or representation of a battle on the stage ; but should never imagine it meant one of Homer's descriptions in the Iliad. It must be allowed at the same time, that imitation and description agree in their principal effect, that of recalling by external signs the ideas of things, which we do not see. But, though in this they coincide, yet it should be remembered, that the terms themselves are not synonymous; that they im. port different means of producing the same end; and consequently make different impressions on the mind.


To form an adequate idea of the origin of lane guage, we must contemplate the circumstances of mankind in their earliest and rudest state. They were then a wandering, scattered race; no society among them except families.; and family society also very imperfect, as their mode of living, by hunting or pasturage, must have separated them frequently from each other. In such a condition, how could any one set of sounds or words be universally agreed on, as the signs of

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their ideas? Supposing that a few whom chance or necessity threw together, agreed by some means upon certain signs; yet, by what authority could these be so propagated among other tribes or families, as to grow up into a language ? One would imagine that men must have been previously gathered together in considerable numbers, before language could be fixed and extended; and yet on the other hand there seems to have been an absolute necessity of speech previously to the formation of society. For by what bond could a multitude of men be kept together, or be connected in prosecution of any common interest, before by the assistance of speech they could communicate their wants and intentions to each other? So that, how society could subsist previously to language, and how words could rise into lauguage before the formation of society, seem to be points attended with equal difficulty. When we consider farther that curious analogy, which prevails in the construction of almost all languages, and that deep and subtile logic, on which they are founded; difficulties increase so much upon us on all sides, that tbere seems to be no small reason for referring the origin of all language to divine inspiration.

But, supposing language to have a divine original, we cannot imagine that a perfect system of it was at once given to man. It is much more natural to suppose that God taught our first parents only such language as suited their present occasions ; leaving them, as he did in other respects, to enlarge and improve it as their future necessities should require. Consequently, those rudiments of speech must have been poor and

narrow; and we are at liberty to inquire, in what manner, and by what steps, language advanced to the state, in which we now find it.

Should we suppose a period existed, before words were invented or known; it is evident, that men could have no other method of communicating their feelings, than by the cries of passion, accompanied by such motions and gestures, as were farther expressive of emotion. These indeed are the only signs, which nature teaches all men, and which are understood by all. One, who saw another going into some place, where he himself had been frightened, or exposed to danger, and who wished to warn his neighbour of the danger, could contrive no other method of doing it, than by uttering those cries, and making those gestures, which are the signs of fear; as two men at this day would endeavour to make themselves understood by each other, if thrown together on a desolate island, ignorant of each other's language. Those exclamations, therefore, by grammarians called interjections, uttered in a strong and passionate manner, were undoubtedly the elements of speech.

When more enlarged communication became requisite, and names began to be applied to objects; how can we suppose men proceeded in this application of names, or invention of words? Certainly by imitating, as much as they could, the nature of the object named by the sound of the name given to it. As a painter, who would represent grass, must employ a green colour ; so in the infancy of language one, giving name to any thing harsh or boisterous, would of course employ a harsh or boisterous sound. He could

not do otherwise, if he desired to excite in the hearer the idea of that object, which he wished to name. To imagine words invented, or names given to things, without any ground or reason, is to suppose an effect without a cause. There must always have been some motive, which led to one name, rather than another; and we can suppose no motive, which would more generally operate upon men in their first efforts toward language, than a desire to paint by speech the objects, which they named, in a manner more or less complete, according as it was in the power of the human voice to effect this imitation.

Wherever objects were to be named, in which sound, noise, or motion was concerned, the imitation by words was sufficiently obvious. Nothing was more natural, than to imitate by the sound of the voice the quality of the sound or noise, which any external object produced; and to form its name accordingly. Thus in all languages we discover a multitude of words, which are evidently constructed on this principle. A certain bird is called the Cuckoo, from the sound which it emits. When one sort of wind is said to whistle, and another to roar ; when a serpent is said to hiss ; a fly to buzz ; and falling timber to crush ; when a stream is said to flow, and hail to rattle ; the resemblence between the word and the thing signified is plainly discernible. But in the names of objects which address the sight only, where neither noise nor motion is concerned, and still more in terms, appropriated to moral ideas, this analogy appears to fail. Yet many learned men have imagined that, though in such cases it becomes more obscure, it is not altogether lost ; and that in the radical words of all languages there may be traced some degree of correspondence with the objects signified.

This principle however of a natural relation between words and objects, can be applied to language only in its most simple and early state. Though in every tongue some remains of it may be traced, it were utterly in vain to search for it through the whole construction of any modern language. As terms increase in every nation, and the vast field of language is filled up, words by a thousand fanciful and irregular methods of derivation and composition deviate widely from the primitive character of their roots, and lose all resemblance in sound of the things signified. This is the present state of language. Words, as we now use them, taken in general, may

be considered as symbols, not imitations; as arbitrary or instituted, not natural signs of ideas. But there can be no doubt, that language, the nearer we approach to its rise among men, will be found to partake more of a natural expression.

Interjections, it has been shown, or passionate exclamations, were the elements of speech. Men laboured to communicate their feelings to each other by those expressive cries and gestures, which pature taught them. After words, or names of objects, began to be invented, this mode of speaking by natural signs could not be all at once disused. For language in its infancy must have been extremely barren; and there certainly was a period among all rude nations, when conversation was carried on by a very few words, intermixed with many exclamations and earnest gestures. The small stock of words which mnen

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